Refining Open Educational Resources For Both Learner And Institution

Law, Patrina (2019). Refining Open Educational Resources For Both Learner And Institution. PhD thesis The Open University.



The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement over the past ten years has described many benefits of releasing learning for free, including business remunerations to institutions as well as a means to altruistically reach underserved groups. By examining learner behaviour and motivation, the papers collated for this PhD by Published Work bring a critical analysis to the experience of delivering OER addressing the broad research question “How can the refinement of OER benefit both learner and institution?”.

A range of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and associated website analytics are used to investigate the challenges of repurposing OER together with how the motivations of those wishing to take advantage of OER usage can be better supported. During the five-year time line of these papers, formal students and informal learners, predominantly UK-based, were surveyed by the author generating several thousand responses.

These surveys focussed mainly on a large institutional endeavour to deliver OER at The Open University, key findings from which show the business impact of open educational practice where literature had provided only theoretical assumptions. The data also exposes the many and varied motivations of learners using OER where literature has focused largely on the experience and attitudes of educators.

The thesis reveals learners’ problems with OER usability more generally, and critically, the desire for certification of OER study against the prohibitive costs of studying in higher education. It describes the development by the author and associated impact of the application of digital badges (or ‘micro-credentials’) to reward users of OER as recognition for informal learning achievements.

The thesis includes recommendations that extend beyond one institution’s OER policy, regarding the design and curation of OER globally to better serve the needs of learners, particularly those who cannot afford formal study. It also highlights the need to bring together OER and micro-credentials more cohesively to explore the potential of a framework of core work-related skills needed for a digital economy.

It is concluded that there is an economy of scale to the delivery of OER, but that the key to successful impact is through robust open educational practice, instructional design and tangible recognition to learners of their achievements.

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